Described as the most critical metric for organisations in the 21st century, employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to their place of work – and its goals. Engaged employees can mean the difference between a surviving or a thriving organisation. This is especially pertinent during economic recovery periods when there are more opportunities for employees to grow and prosper. During upward economic cycles, engagement becomes crucial as organisations ask fewer people to do more, creating increased risk that top-performing employees may leave as conditions improve.
For this reason, corporations need to be conscious about the way in which they affect levels of motivation, engagement and performance amongst their top performing staff. There are a number of key factors that play an essential role in engaging people towards a clear strategy, which in turn influences the customer experience and the overall performance of an organisation in terms of productivity and profitability. Some of the most important ones to consider are:
- A “fit for purpose” organisational structure where people understand what is expected of them and what they are responsible for;
- People systems and processes that drive the right behaviours;
- Capable leadership; and
- A positive work environment (culture).
Research conducted by Right Management (A Manpower Company), reveals that engaged employees are seven times less likely to leave in the next year and 1.5 times more likely to stay for at least five years. Such findings demonstrate how important it is for organisations to invest in their workforce by retaining key talent together with their intellectual capital for the purpose of business continuity.
Who is engaged in your organisation and who isn’t?
Asking this question is a good starting point for retaining key talent because this will impact on organisational competitiveness should top performers start leaving. Research tells us that only one in three employees is engaged in their job and the organisation they work for. Engagement drives key business metrics, such as customer satisfaction and profitability, so organisations that seek to improve engagement measures are more likely to witness significant improvements in organisational performance.
How do I create and sustain engagement levels in my workforce?
- Measure engagement levels. A proven and tested way to achieve this is to conduct a quantitative survey. This should be supported by qualitative interviews and focus groups. If you don’t ask the right questions, you will never uncover the practices your organisation needs to address and for which it needs to provide a solution.
- Determine the drivers of engagement. Every organisation is characterised by its own unique dynamics, structure and culture. It is therefore advisable to conduct research in order to determine your employee’s unique set of engagement drivers. Designing the right solutions only comes from being able to intelligently interpret the analyses.
- Link the results to business outcomes. Research has consistently shown that employee engagement is a lead indicator of lag business metrics such as customer loyalty, productivity and profitability.
- Continue to track engagement levels. Organisations are continuously evolving and changing, making it logical to keep measuring engagement and tracking the success of existing strategies for increasing engagement and business performance.
- Benchmark competitor practices. Benchmarking is a useful tool for understanding how you measure against competitors. This practice aims to answer the question: “How good are our results compared to the results of other organisations in my country or my industry?”
- Target your investment and effort where it will have the most impact. A sound analysis will uncover two or three critical areas that you need to focus on – those areas that drive engagement and are underperforming.
The opportunity to win the hearts and minds of your employees is now. We encourage you to take the necessary steps to engaging your workforce while at the same time retaining key talent and sustaining a driving performance.
Sources: Leadership Insights, Employee Engagement (Maximizing Organisational Performance), Right Management (The Manpower Company)